NI CompactRIO technology harnesses distributed renewable generation with a future-proof platform for intelligent energy management
AUSTIN, Texas – April 22, 2013 – National Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI) has partnered with Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc. (LocalGrid™) to build the next-generation energy management system for Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited. Funded by nearly $2.5 million in grants from Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative and Ontario’s Smart Grid Fund, the project takes advantage of distributed intelligence technology to manage renewable energy generated by the community onto the power grid. In addition to allowing for increased generation capacity, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the integrated platform can improve reliability and efficiency across the electric power system.
“The electrical grid will be radically transformed over the next 10 years, moving from a centralized model of power generation and distribution to a less capital-intensive local or MicroGrid model,” said Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid. “This is driven in part by the introduction of distributed renewable sources of generation. Our technology allows renewables that are currently blocked to come online without costly infrastructure investment.”
The LocalGrid solution addresses an unexpected challenge created by clean energy incentives. Due to the country’s vast size, cold climate and expansive economy, Canada has one of the highest rates of per capita energy consumption in the world. To promote conservation and efficiency, the federal and provincial governments provide rebates to households and businesses for renewable energy installations. In some areas, the boom in solar panels and wind turbines actually generate more power than the existing infrastructure can handle, resulting in valuable electricity being wasted.
Toronto Hydro, the largest municipal electric utility in Canada, is working with LocalGrid to develop a distributed approach for managing generation without requiring expensive new power lines or capital equipment. LocalGrid’s software uses NI CompactRIO devices installed on the grid to control and monitor community generation sources.
“We are using CompactRIO because of its combination of advanced analytics and processing power, in a rugged, flexible, field-deployable system, at the right price point,” said Leigh. “A distributed energy management system must have flexibility, modularity and reliability at the core of the design so that it can grow with the needs of utilities for years to come.”
Last fall, Toronto Hydro and LocalGrid kicked off a two-year demonstration period at Exhibition Place. The mixed-use district is home to Canada’s largest entertainment venue and has a variety of distributed generation installations. This month, testing began with the CompactRIO intelligent grid devices that will manage, monitor and control the Exhibition Place grid.
“Toronto Hydro and Prolucid LocalGrid’s work will serve as a model for sustainable energy and smart grid technologies, showing other utilities an integrated and interactive approach to improving efficiency, reliability and responsiveness,” said Owen Golden, vice president of NI’s energy segment. “We are extremely excited to be the technology partner for the sophisticated control and monitoring applications needed within such a complex network.”
About Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc.
Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc. delivers turnkey packaged solutions for utilities that are deploying MicroGrid topologies. LocalGrid provides real-time analytics based on electrical inflows and outflows to optimize utilization and its grid technology enables real-time management and control of power distribution to maximize the use of existing assets on the local grid for a fraction of new infrastructure costs. LocalGrid is a spin-off of Prolucid Technologies Inc., a winner of the 2011 and 2012 Profit Hot 50 and an NI Silver Alliance Partner.
About Toronto Hydro
Toronto Hydro is the regulated “wires” affiliate of Toronto Hydro Corporation and the largest municipal electric distribution utility in Canada. Toronto Hydro ensures the safe and reliable delivery of electrical power to approximately 709,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers across the City of Toronto. This represents approximately 18 percent of electricity consumers in the province of Ontario. Toronto Hydro plans, maintains and operates Toronto’s electrical distribution system infrastructure safely, efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner.
• City of Toronto population: 2.5 Million
• Total number of customers: 709,000
• Electricity delivered (gigawatt-hours): 24,708
• Total revenue: $570.8 Million
• Length of overhead wires (km): 15,100
• Length of underground wires (km): Over 10,900
Since 1976, NI has made it possible for engineers and scientists to solve the world’s greatest engineering challenges with powerful, flexible technology solutions that accelerate productivity and drive rapid innovation. Customers from a wide variety of industries—from healthcare to automotive and from consumer electronics to particle physics—use NI’s integrated hardware and software platform to improve the world we live in.